CPS Streamlines Standardized Testing Policy 

All students to receive less testing in the 2013-14 school year

August 07, 2013

After working with hundreds of parents, teachers, students, administrators and researchers over the past several months, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced today that she will streamline the amount of District-required standardized testing currently administered by CPS. The streamlining of assessments will mean the elimination of 15 District-mandated tests including elimination of fall standardized testing for all CPS grades. This school year, CPS will require 10 District-mandated standardized tests across all grades, a decrease from 25 District-mandated standardized tests last school year.


Beginning in February, the District hosted meetings with 17 focus groups made up of parents, teachers, principals and other education stakeholders, the majority of whom agreed that focusing too intensely on test preparation can crowd out the valuable learning time that is so critical to student success.


“As  a former teacher and principal, I heard loud and clear the concerns of our parents and educators that over-testing is not in the best interests of our children, thus I recognize the need to pursue a policy that increases valuable learning time,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett.


This sensible testing policy will include the adoption of a spring-to-spring assessment framework – one that eliminates high-stakes fall testing and gives parents and educators a yearlong perspective on student growth.


“Eliminating fall testing frees up significant instructional time that can be used to engage students in activities that further develop their writing, speaking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Didi Swartz, Director of Assessment for CPS. “And the adoption of a spring-to-spring testing framework allows for a full year of growth to be measured, presenting a clearer picture of a student’s overall trajectory of learning.”


Additionally, since individual schools are in the best position to understand their local curriculum, principals and school leadership teams will also have the flexibility to choose interim tests that measure progress in a way that makes sense for their students.


“What we heard in our focus groups was that assessments imposed from outside the school often do not align with the scope and sequence of what is being taught in the classroom,” said Swartz. “This is why CPS has chosen to return decisions on optional assessments to individual schools.”


The District’s new testing policy will begin in fall 2013, and builds on last April’s decision to eliminate the MPG exam for students in grades K-2. And as CPS is in the process of transitioning to a more rigorous Common Core curriculum, its new assessment policy will require that interim tests selected by schools be aligned to the Common Core State Standards, and that these assessments place a strong emphasis on critical thinking, reading, writing and problem-solving skills.


To learn more about the schedule of assessments and the changes being made this year, view the slideshow below.



See below for a complete list of standardized tests that will be eliminated in fall 2013, as well as a list of interim assessments that may be selected by individual schools:




Required Administration Timing



Schools are required to monitor early literacy progress with 1 tool.  CPS will support MPG and TRC/DIBELS.  Schools can choose another tool.

Flexible windows to accommodate individual assessment: Aug-Oct, Nov-Feb, May-June

Ensure schools have a research-based and comprehensive way to monitor early literacy, critical for ensuring students don’t fall off-track early.


Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): Common Core version

Spring: May

Measure of whether students are meeting grade level learning and year-to-year growth expectations.  Also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation. 


IL Standards Achievement Test (ISAT)

Early March

Required by IL State Board of Education (ISBE) for all 3-8 students in IL.




Measure of whether students are meeting grade level learning and year-to-year growth expectations.  Also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation. 



Late April

Required by ISBE.  ACT growth is also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation. 

7-12 Alternative School Students only


Sept, Jan, May

Used in place of NWEA or EPAS to measure whether students in Alternative Schools are meeting grade level learning and within year growth expectations.  Also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation.


REACH Performance Tasks

October, May

Measures baseline and growth information on activity-based skills not easily assessed with traditional multiple choice tests.  Results used in teacher evaluation.

K-12 ELLs only



Required by ISBE.  Measures English language development.


Eliminated required tests:


  • MPG for K-2 (five tests)
  • Fall MAP for 3-8 grade (six tests)
  • EXPLORE for 8th grade (one test)
  • Fall EPAS for 9-11 grade (three tests)


Total District-required tests eliminated: 15 tests


Page Last Modified on Thursday, August 08, 2013